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Albatross hatchlings a milestone for Kahuku

Posted on Fri, 2019/02/08 - 8:51am by Laura Purdy

Turtle Bay Resort is home to 100 acres of marsh surrounding the Arnold Palmer golf course and is a designated Supporting Habitat for various species of endangered Waterbirds:

Hawaiian Stilt, Hawaiian Coot, Hawaiian Moorhen, Hawaiian Duck, and now the Albatross.

These endangered birds are highly susceptible to human and predator disturbance so please admire them from a distance. 


P1, one of two new Laysan albatross chicks that hatched Monday on the North Shore, is shaded by a parent.

By Nina Wu | STAR-ADVERTISER | February 7, 2019

Two new Laysan albatross chicks have hatched on Oahu’s North Shore.

The North Shore Community Land Trust said they hatched on Monday at Kahuku Point, marking a milestone after adult albatrosses have attempted to nest in the area for the past five years without success. The birth of the chicks signals hope for the long-term goal of establishing a new colony on Oahu.

Laysan albatrosses, or Phoebastria immutabilis, are listed as a near-threatened species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List.

Albatrosses only lay one egg a year and incubate it for a little over two months, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Chicks generally hatch from late January to mid-February, and fledge after five to six months.

Albatross chicks imprint on their home when they are a month old and usually return to the same area to lay their eggs. When they fledge, the chicks are expected to head to the North Pacific and spend the next three to five years at sea foraging for food.

“While Laysan albatrosses nest on Oahu and Kauai, the vast majority of nesting occurs on low-lying atolls in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands where populations are vulnerable to sea-level rise,” said Sheldon Plentovich, the Pacific Islands Coastal Program coordinator for the USFWS, in a news release. “Already, storm surges wipe out thousands of nests each year. Creating safe, predator-free nesting habitats on high islands is the key to the long-term survival of this and several other seabird species.”

Historically, Laysan albatross did nest on the main Hawaiian Islands, according to Eric VanderWerf, director of science at Pacific Rim Conservation, but most were wiped out by non- native predators such as mongoose, feral cats and rats.

The coastline at Kahuku Point where the chicks hatched has been under restoration since February 2015, according to the North Shore Community Land Trust, which played an instrumental role in helping to preserve 630 acres of open space along 5 miles of coastline between Kahuku Point and Kawela Bay.

Volunteers have worked for years to stabilize the dunes and remove invasive species at Kahuku Point, one of the few remaining places on Oahu with intact coastal strand habitat that includes yellow-faced bees, Hawaiian monk seals, nesting green sea turtles and ohai, an endangered plant with pea-shaped flowers.

They also have worked with the USFWS’s Pacific Islands Coastal ProgramHawaii Marine Animal Response, and Turtle Bay Resort to control predators, primarily mongooses, using humane traps.

“Restoring land that we’ve helped conserve is a key part of our mission,” said North Shore Community Land Trust Executive Director Adam Borrello “When the community comes together with the support of partner organizations, we see what a tremendous impact it can make. The return of the Laysan albatrosses shows how important it is to preserve these special places on the North Shore.”

Visitors are asked to keep a distance from the albatrosses, and to make sure their dogs are on a leash. Volunteers are currently monitoring four other Laysan albatross nests nearby, and hope to see more hatchlings within the next week.

Concurrently, state officials announced Tuesday that albatross numbers at Kaena Point Natural Area Reserve continue to climb after a predator-proof fence went up in 2011.

In the 2018 season, 106 albatross pairs attempted to breed, according to the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, a record number since 2015, when 97 pairs attempted to breed. There are currently about 500 albatrosses at Kaena Point Natural Area Reserve.

DLNR reminded visitors that dogs, even on a leash, are


illegal to bring to Kaena Point because they frighten nesting birds and have caused mass deaths of seabirds in the past. Visitors should stay on marked trails and observe all wildlife, respectfully, from a distance.